Community Services Block Grant (CSBG)

CSBG is a federal, anti-poverty block grant which funds the operations of a state-administered network of local agencies.  This grant provides core funding to local agencies to reduce poverty, revitalize low-income communities and to empower low-income families to become self-sufficient.  The CSBG network consists of more than 1,000 agencies that create, coordinate and deliver programs and services to low-income Americans in 99 percent of the nation’s counties touching the lives of over 15 million people.  

Most agencies in the CSBG network are Community Action Agencies (CAAs), created through the Economic Opportunity Act, a predecessor of the CSBG. Community representation and accountability are hallmarks of the CSBG network, where agencies are governed by a tri-partite board. This board structure consists of elected public officials, representatives of the low-income community, and appointed leaders from the private sector.

Because the CSBG funds the central management and core activities of these agencies, the CSBG network is able to mobilize additional resources to combat the central causes of poverty.   CSBG funding is crucial to the citizens of Maine and helps families address emergency needs, stabilize health and financial well-being, and build assets for a more secure future. The following are just a few of the CSBG-funded programs that created strong families and communities across the state in 2016:

Transition Teams
Transition Teams are comprised of various organizations and service providers that offer assistance, education, resources and support to laid-off workers and their families. Collaborating with the State of Maine Rapid Response Coordinator, the team identifies the greatest needs represented by a specific group of workers. In response to those needs, the Transition Team can host a series of workshops and provide resources that cover topics such as foreclosure prevention, debt management, healthcare options, starting a business, education and training opportunities, accessing General Assistance and budgeting. Transition Teams also have hosted community dinners and fundraisers to meet the practical needs of families, such as heating their homes and feeding their families. In the past two years, Transition Teams for Penobscot and Piscataquis counties have responded to the needs of 1,200 individuals and families affected by layoffs at Lincoln Pulp and Paper, Great Northern Paper, Old Town Fuel & Fiber, and Verso Paper mills.  In addition, the Transition Team in Somerset County recently assisted over 300 displaced workers at the United Technologies Corporation in Pittsfield.
Nurse Home Visiting and Bridging
Nurse Home Visiting and Bridging was started by the Community Caring Collaborative in Machias in response to the lack of support available to new mothers with infants who are born premature, drug impacted or who have other complicated medical issues. In this area, Eastern Maine Medical Center is the hospital at which nearly all of our seriously ill babies must be treated. This usually requires a trip of several hours and the commitment of at least a full day, a challenge for anyone, but particularly difficult for low-income families. The program provides a nurse to work with these families and to act as a “bridge” between the family and the medical and social services that are available. The nurse often travels with the family to the hospital and provides other supports such as gas cards or a ride.
South End Teen Center (SETC)
South End Teen Center (SETC), located in Waterville’s most impoverished neighborhood, serves over 100 junior/senior high school youth each year, providing a safe, enriching after-school environment with a goal of ensuring that teens stay in school and learn life skills. Teen Stars incentive program offers rewards for points earned for school attendance, good grades, participation in school activities, attendance/participation in SETC activities and participation in SETC community service projects. SETC offers employment preparation – currently 7 teens are working. For the past three years, 100% of SETC members have completed the school year and 45% have participated in community service projects. Staff worked with local benefactors to establish and coordinate two scholarship programs available to members:  one for driver’s education and one for the American Heritage Tour.
At Home Downeast (AHD)
At Home Downeast (AHD) provides transportation and other services to older people who are trying to stay at home. The services, which are largely provided by volunteers, include transportation to medical appointments, grocery shopping, pharmacy visits and visits by home visiting nurses. Each member pays a subscription fee based on their income and then uses the services available depending on their individual needs. This program has won wide acclaim in Maine for enabling seniors to stay in their homes longer and by involving their communities in providing needed volunteer services.
Case Management
Case Management provides essential information, referral and case management services to low income individuals and families, particularly those that have no other support system in place such as Maine Families or Head Start.  From a young, single mother with no family support and limited knowledge of resources, to a homeless veteran, to an elderly widow on a fixed income struggling to maintain independence, these services are available to help people connect to community resources that can help stabilize families and assist people to increase their self-sufficiency and move out of poverty.  Several Community Action Agencies across Maine utilize a portion of CSBG to administer this program which is a success in large part due to the advocacy the clients receive as well as the program having the ability to use a holistic approach when fighting poverty. Case management does not just address one need, it addresses all of them helping to ensure a client’s full success.
Microenterprise Development
Microenterprise Development is crucial to Maine’s economy and rural communities, but entrepreneurs often have difficulty accessing the resources necessary to start and expand these small businesses. Microenterprise development services enable entrepreneurs to develop sound business plans and access financing necessary to create jobs and contribute to vibrant communities. Over the past year, services have helped to establish or expand such enterprises as a child care business, veterinary business, rural taxi businesses, behavioral therapy business, and a veteran-owned landscaping business. In FY15, 13 microenterprises received assistance accessing microloans (under $50,000 each) totaling $350,000 for startup or expansion. These new loans resulted in the creation of 15 FTE jobs and the retention of 5.5 FTE jobs.
Community Schools
Community Schools are public schools that serve as hubs, bringing together many partners to offer a range of supports and opportunities to children, youth, families and communities. Its integrated focus on academics, health and social services, youth and community development and community engagement leads to improved student learning, stronger families and healthier communities. Efforts to introduce the Community Schools model within local school districts have enabled local schools to assess the needs of children and families and connect families with community resources. Through the efforts of Maine State Senator Rebecca Millett, funding for three (3) community school pilot programs has been accepted into the state budget. These five-year programs will begin in the 2016-17 school year. Funding will support community school resource coordinators at each school to develop and strengthen connections between schools and community resources and increase the wellbeing of children and families.